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September 11th in NYC with the Pandemic: Memory of Pain and Fear of the Future

19 years after the tragedy that changed history not only for the US, the challenge of COVID-19 again finds humanity at the crossroads of progress and decay

9/11 Memorial at the World Trade Center.

Respect for those who for six thousand and nine hundred thirty-five nights, have fallen asleep with that excruciating pain.

In Italian

I have lived through September 11 in New York for 19 years. Each time it seems to be the first anniversary; it is increasingly difficult to imagine that next year it will be twenty years.

I have already written it, and I repeat it today, that the memory of this epochal tragedy should belong only to those who lost a family member or a friend, while everyone else should be silent, bearing respect for the pain of that memory. Because there is no analysis or story that can alleviate the suffering of the families and friends of the victims who for six thousand and nine hundred and thirty-five nights have fallen asleep with that excruciating pain.

For this reason, as we have already done in the past, La Voce di New York commemorates the anniversary through the words of family members, and then presenting the video we made, in which the story of David De Feo, who died in the second crash within days of his 37 birthday, is told through the voices of his loved ones. He had been working for five years on the 104th floor of the South Tower and that morning he had gone to work earlier: he wanted to get back home early to help his wife with their move.

Today at the Consulate General of Italy in New York the names of the Italian and Italian American victims are being read. You can follow the commemoration event live on Facebook. The list of hundreds of names was collected thanks to the careful and sensitive work of Giulio Picolli, a leader of the Italian American community in New Jersey who also lost a family member on 11 September 2001.

The event that upset the lives not only of New Yorkers, but of the whole world by accelerating (or slowing down?) History, this year takes place in the midst of a pandemic that has caused and will still cause millions of deaths and, like 19 years ago, promises to change the path of humanity on this planet. Of all its inhabitants, in fact, as happened after 9/11.

Another watershed of civilization? Will we move forward towards progress or will we regress into fear, which brings misery and violence?

19 years after 9/11, the answer to this dilemma is still pending for this writer. Today the pandemic, as well as the indifference to the great problems that afflict us, the most nagging and essential being climate change, make every prediction even more uncertain. However, especially after what has been seen since Donald Trump’s inauguration in the Oval Office, which remains the most powerful executive office in the world, any optimistic outlook has been lost, at least for me. The COVID-19 pandemic has in fact made it even more evident how certain leaders chosen by democracies, not only in America, appear to be increasingly inadequate to the epochal tasks that challenge us.

This year, the 9/11 anniversary comes close to the elections for the White House and Congress. I’m is still hoping that America wakes up and does the right thing in November, as it did after the terrible death of George Floyd; that it comes out of its stupor; stunned and on its knees, and once again finds strength in its spirit of freedom that its democratic institutions protects and guarantees. We hope that its awakening will also be felt in the rest of the world and that it puts us on the path of a future of progress and civilization.

Translated by Vanessa Vuji

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